FTR and ACT Research released preliminary data for Class 8 orders. According to ACT, January NA Classes 5-7 net orders are expected at 17,000 units and Class 8 net orders are expected at 34,700 units, when actual data are released mid-month.

According to FTR, preliminary data shows January Class 8 truck net orders at 34,403, the second consecutive month with orders above 30K; and the first time back to back months have exceeded this mark since 2006.  The combined order activity for December-January should allow OEM’s to hit Q1 targets with possible increases in production in Q2 as forecasted by FTR.  January orders improved 56% Y/Y with an annualized rate of 347,500 units over the past three months. Preliminary order numbers are for all major North American OEMs.

“The past four months have seen three of the top five order months this cycle for Classes 5-8,” said Kenny Vieth, president & sr. analyst at ACT Research. “In January, Class 8 orders rose 9% from December’s strong showing and 51% from year-ago January.

"While the order trend has accelerated, it should be noted that this is the time of year in which Class 8 orders tend to be strong: Typically, orders accelerate in Q4 and remain elevated into Q2 before falling sharply in Q3. If industry build transpires as expected, Class 8 backlogs are expected to have posted a nice gain in January,” he added.

Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial Vehicles, commented: “Orders were way beyond expectations. This is another great order month to kick-start 2014. Order strength was broad-based among manufactures and countries. This is a very positive signal for the industry. The strong orders are consistent with the tightening of capacity in the marketplace. Fleets and dealers continue to display confidence in the freight market.”

According to ACT, after a pause in December, medium-duty orders returned to trend in January. Net orders were up 13% from December and 31% compared to last January.